QUESTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
©Wendell Griffen, 2015
The Yuletide revelry and carols have ended. Christmas decorations will soon be taken down and stored, if that has not already happened. The holiday hustle and bustle is behind us—perhaps this means people will drive more sensibly and not compete for parking spaces in shopping centers. Children and teachers and staff members return to schools next week in most places, and workers will resume our usual schedules. Public officials have been, in most cases, sworn in for their new terms of office.
During the holiday season it is fashionable to make charitable contributions to needy causes, including those who are poor, homeless, sick, and otherwise vulnerable. But the Christmas and New Year holidays are behind us now. Will the people who opened their purses to make charitable donations open our eyes and hearts to understand the systemic causes for poverty, homelessness, sickness, and other vulnerability that operate every day? Or will we refuse to understand that it is hypocrisy to practice heartlessness throughout the year and pretend to remedy the violence of systemic heartlessness during the Christmas season?
Will the much needed and long overdue outrage about police brutality and racial profiling that rose last year after Michael Brown, Jr. was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner was choked to death in Staten Island, New York continue in the new year? Will activists and advocates continue challenging the myth that people who work in law enforcement are above criticism when they brutalize and kill others? Or will we become nonchalant about the relationship between cultural incompetence and racial injustice?
Will this be the year, finally, when people of goodwill and moral insight across the United States demand that our nation stop throwing its money, military support, and moral influence behind racist policies by the Israeli government towards Palestinians? Will this be the year that leaders of Christian congregations and larger bodies finally realize that the modern nation of Israel is not above the great Biblical teaching that one must love others as one loves oneself? Or will we continue ignoring the land theft, economic oppression, and political inequality suffered by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government?
Will Arkansas politicians continue cheating families and the future of our State by refusing to provide and fund early childhood public education? Will the people of our State stand by and watch funds that could be used to strengthen families, neighborhoods, healthcare, and build lives be diverted to construct a new prison estimated to cost $100 million?
We have entered a new year. What will we do this year to make life different and better? What will you do?